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Issues and Insights

This page provides links to recent articles, reports and announcements relating to transportation policy, legislation and research. The entries are drawn from a wide range of sources, including national newspapers, magazines and websites. If you come across interesting transportation reading that might deserve posting here, let us know at [email protected]

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Car sales rise and car-share companies boom as pandemic upends transportation Guardian, Aug. 13, 2020 - Since the coronavirus pandemic first hit the United States, many people who previously relied on buses, subways or ride-hailing services are opting for other ways to travel to avoid sharing space – and germs – with strangers. As public transportation and ride-hailing companies see deep cuts in their profits, car sales are on the rise. The pandemic could also ultimately benefit vehicle sharing companies like Gig, Turo and Zipcar, said Maite Bezerra, an analyst at the global tech market advisory ABI Research.
 
Who needs a car? Electric unicycles among new forms of micro urban transportation  Vancouver Sun, Sept. 27, 2020 -Saville’s electric unicycle is one of the new kind of vehicles appearing more and more on streets, bike lanes and sometimes sidewalks in the region. In the last decade, they’ve been joined by a whole range of new vehicles that include electric bicycles, electric skateboards with one and two wheels, electric scooters, and electric hoverboards. 
 
Next-Gen Transportation Isn’t Going Anywhere Without Data Government Technology, Sept.15, 2020 - Effectively operating the transportation systems of tomorrow is going to take more than thoughtful planning; it’s also going to require a lot of good data, experts say. 
Will Trump let congestion pricing happen? Cityandstateny.com, 8/13/20 - The Metropolitan Transportation Authority could really do with an extra $1 billion right about now. The MTA expects to face a $16 billion shortfall through 2024, and that’s on top of long-neglected infrastructure modernization needs that congestion pricing was supposed to fund with $1 billion per year in revenue from tolling drivers entering Manhattan south of 60th Street at peak times. But any hopes of the state’s congestion pricing plan delivering that kind of dough have been dashed for the foreseeable future. 
Corona Bicycle Metrics: Where Bicycling Increased and (Surprise!) Decreased Street Light Data, 7/21/20 - Bike shops sold out quickly, and cyclists seemed to be everywhere during May’s widespread stay-home orders. But were Americans actually cycling more? Our analysis provides cycling facts instead of anecdotes about cycling during COVID. And some of the results surprised us. To understand the shifts in cycling behavior beyond the anecdotal headlines, we used our bicycle Metric from StreetLight Insight. We’ve just released updated data through May of 2020 to enable these sorts of trend analyses. 
I’ve Seen a Future Without Cars, and It’s Amazing The New York Times, 7/9/20 - As coronavirus lockdowns crept across the globe this winter and spring, an unusual sound fell over the world’s metropolises: the hush of streets that were suddenly, blessedly free of cars. City dwellers reported hearing bird song, wind and the rustling of leaves. (Along with, in New York City, the intermittent screams of sirens.)
How Cities Are Trying to Avert Gridlock After Coronavirus Lockdowns The New York Times, 6/26/20 - As coronavirus lockdowns loosen around the world, city leaders are scrambling to address a new problem: the prospect of gridlock worse than before the pandemic. From Shenzhen to Milan to Austin, officials are trying to coax people back onto buses and subways and reclaim road space for cyclists and pedestrians.
Five ways to ensure that models serve society: a manifesto Nature.com, 6/24/20 -  The COVID-19 pandemic illustrates perfectly how the operation of science changes when questions of urgency, stakes, values and uncertainty collide — in the ‘post-normal’ regime.

Well before the coronavirus pandemic, statisticians were debating how to prevent malpractice such as p-hacking, particularly when it could influence policy. Now, computer modelling is in the limelight, with politicians presenting their policies as dictated by ‘science’ Yet there is no substantial aspect of this pandemic for which any researcher can currently provide precise, reliable numbers. 

Emissions Are Surging Back as Countries and States Reopen The New York Times, 6/17/20 - 
After a drastic decline this spring, global greenhouse gas emissions are now rebounding sharply, scientists reported, as countries relax their coronavirus lockdowns and traffic surges back onto roads. It’s a stark reminder that even as the pandemic rages, the world is still far from getting global warming under control. In early April, daily fossil fuel emissions worldwide were roughly 17 percent lower than they were in 2019, as governments ordered people to stay home, employees stopped driving to work, factories idled and airlines grounded their flights, according to a study published in May in Nature Climate Change.
Fear of Public Transit Got Ahead of the Evidence The Atlantic, 6/14/20 - 
The headline of the report read like the title of a 1950s horror film: “The Subways Seeded the Massive Coronavirus Epidemic in New York City.” As America’s densest city became the epicenter of a national pandemic in March, New York’s subway system, which carried 5.5 million people on an average workday in 2019, emerged as the villain from central casting. Landing in mid-April, the report, written by an MIT economics professor, concluded that New York’s subway system was “a major disseminator—if not the principal transmission vehicle” in the city’s COVID-19 outbreak.
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